Tom Hanks – Fear or Faith
Tom Hanks tells a parable about the importance of cultivating our faith rather than our fears, so that we can all bring out the best of us.
“Three men found that they could no longer sleep because of their deep-seated fears. This is a story I’m telling. Their lives were in a state of stasis because of their constant worries, so they set out on a pilgrimage to find a wise man who lived high in the mountains, so high up above the tree line that no vegetation grew, no animals lived, not even insects could be found so high up in the mountains in that thin air.
“When they reached his cave, the first of three said, ‘Help me wise man, for my fear has crippled me.’ ‘What’s your fear?’, asked the wise man. “I fear death,” said the pilgrim. “I wonder when it is going to come for me.’ ‘Ah death,’ said the wise man. ‘Let me take away this fear my friend. Death will not come to call until you are ready for its embrace. Know that and your fear will go away.’ This calmed that pilgrim’s mind and he feared death no longer.
“The wise man turned to the second pilgrim and said, ‘What is it you fear my friend?’ ‘I fear my new neighbors,’ said the second pilgrim. ‘They are strangers who observe holy days different than mine. They have way too many kids and they play music that sounds like noise.’ ‘Ah, strangers,’ said the wise man. ‘I will take away this fear my friend. Return to your home and make a cake for your new neighbors. Bring toys to their children. Join them in their songs and learn their ways and you will become familiar with these neighbors and your fear will go away.’ The second man saw the wisdom in these simple instructions and knew he would no longer fear the family who were his neighbors.
“There in the cave so high in the mountains that nothing could live, the wise man turned to the last pilgrim and asked of his fear. ‘Oh wise man, I fear spiders. When I try to sleep at night, I imagine spiders dropping from the ceiling and crawling upon my flesh and I cannot rest.’ ‘Ah, spiders,’ said the wise man. ‘No shit. Why do you think I live way up here?’ “
“Fear will get the worst of the best of us. Peddlers of influence count on that. If fear is cultivated, it will become stronger. If faith is cultivated, it will achieve mastery. Fear is whispered in our ears and shouted in our faces. Faith must be fostered by the man or woman you see every day in the mirror. The former forever snaps at our heels and our synapses and delays our course, the latter could spur our boot heels to be wandering, stimulate our creativity and drive us forward. Fear or faith, which will be our master.”